The March Madness is here again and 68 colleges will jostle for the right to claim glory at the AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. As America’s best contest for the title of College Basketball Champions from March 18th to April 7th 2014, we look back at ten of the most thrilling and pulsating comebacks in the history of NCAA Basketball tournaments.

While we understand the subjective nature of ranking sporting achievements and also appreciate that some of our selections may not meet universal approval, we have carefully selected our choices by taking several relevant factors into consideration. The games are featured randomly. If your team doesn’t feature in our top ten, never mind. It might just be their turn to give us an unforgettable performance this year.

  • Miami vs. Virginia, 2011 ACC Tournament Game

How do you lose a game when you’re leading by 10 points with 31 seconds left on the clock?  Miami converted a couple of 3 pointers while Virginia missed free throws and conceded turnovers. At times, it looked as if they were trying not to win. Miami tied the game in regular time and rode on their momentum to win in OT 69-62.

  • Illinois Fighting vs. Arizona Wildcats, 2005 NCAA Championship Elite 8

Trailing by 15 points with less than four minutes to play, Illinois fought back to reduce the deficit by seven points. With a minute to play, they were eight points behind.  Illinois took advantage of Arizona’s poor defensive plays to level the scores at the end of regulation time. As with most games ending in this manner, the team with the momentum wins most times. Illinois advanced to the Top Four 90-89 after overtime

  • Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. DePaul Blue Demons, 1984 Midwest Regional

The blue demons from DePaul actually led for most of the game. Going into the final 170 seconds, they held an 8 point advantage. However, the deacons came back strongly and cast the demons away in overtime 73-71. This game would be the last for the legendary coach of DePaul, Ray Meyer. He had coached them for 42 seasons.

  • USC vs. Oregon, 1999 Regular Season

There are times when even those who are used to strange events can’t believe their eyes. In this regular season game, Oregon led 84-79 with five seconds to go. Logically, this should extinguish any hope of a comeback. USC player, Spanich hit a 3 pointer with 4 seconds left and when Oregon threw a wayward pass, the same player sank another glorious shot from downtown to win the game. His shot hit the net with 0.7seconds on the clock to hand USC a 85-84 victory over Oregon

  • Chicago State vs. UMKC, 2005  Regular Season

This game was filled with magical moments and pure drama. What does a head coach tell his charges when they lose a game they previously led by six points in just two seconds? When UMKC (University of Missouri- Kansas City) let in a freak 3 pointer from Chicago, it looked like the game was headed for overtime with both teams tied at 69. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The boys from Chicago carried the day with the final shot of the game to win 72-69.

  • South Alabama Jaguars vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, 1989 South East Regional

There’s always excitement when local rival clash in sports. The memories and importance of the games normally mean much more to the locals. However, this was different. For all the hype about this game, both teams were meeting for the first time and it was worth waiting for. The Crimson Tide led the Jaguars by 16 points by half time but a largely raucous crowd cheered the Jaguars all the way and they briefly held the lead. However, the Tide were ahead by a point with four seconds to go but Jeff Hodge would shoot a glorious 3 pointer to seal victory for the Jaguars 86-84.

  • UCLA Bruins vs. Missouri Tigers , 1995 West Regional

UCLA are very successful and always emerge as top seeds. When the Tigers drew the Bruins, it must have looked like a straightforward win for UCLA but it wasn’t. Against all expectations, Missouri led at half time but UCLA recovered in the second period and went ahead. Then the Tigers reclaimed the lead 74-73 with four seconds to go. It looked like one of the greatest upsets was about to take place until UCLA point guard, Edney took matters into his capable hands to score the final points of the game for a memorable victory 75-74.

  • Kansas Jayhawks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes , 2012 Final Four

The Jayhawks were considered underdogs going into the Final Four. The Buckeyes shot into the lead and went into the half in commanding fashion. Then the whole game broke apart for them as they missed 10 straight shots after the break. The Jayhawks, led by Releford and Taylor, staged a dramatic rally to record an unlikely victory. They led for only 3 minutes during the game but it was enough.

  • Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisiana State ( LSU) , 1994 SEC

Prior to this game in 1995, the record for overturning a losing position was set in 1950 when Duke rallied from a 29 point half time deficit to defeat Tulane. The Wildcats recovered from a 31 point disadvantage to defeat LSU 99-95 in Baton Rouge. They set a new record and wrote their names in gold.


  • UNC vs. Duke,  1974  Regular Season Final

It may have taken place forty years ago but it remains one of the most exciting comebacks in the history of the game. UNC scored 8 points in the final 17 seconds to tie the game on 86 points at the end of regulation time. When one considers that 3 pointers weren’t applicable then, it makes the feat even more remarkable. The game went to overtime and UNC won 96-92


Tony Eboh

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